It’s a never-ending rat race…
Goals, targets, expectations and hopes. We are trapped in an unfortunate rat race where success is defined by how long our CV is, respect is shown only if we are a doctor, or an engineer and our intellect is measured by the GPA. We live in a world where career success has dominated our life priorities and happiness has become an additional need. Take a moment and contemplate, when was the last time you laughed so hard to the point you cried? When was the last time you felt grateful for being young and alive? When was the last time you felt like you could do anything and everything? We are living a life where being stressed out, submitting assignment after assignment and countless sleepless nights have become the new normal. Life doesn’t have to be this cruel maze, it’s finally the time we take a breather.
Mental Health doesn’t define you, but it’s time we talk about it…
“Mental illnesses are the chronic diseases of the young”
According to a study conducted by Patrick et al. (2007) in Australia, the prevalence of mental health problems among adolescents aged 13-17 years is 19% and increases to 27% among young adults aged 18–24 years. Different psychological and psychiatric studies conducted in multiple developed and developing countries across the past decades have shown that prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression is higher among university students compared with the general population. Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, overworking the body and the stress related to financial difficulties, failed relationships, pressure to do well in academics and the stress of finding a job after graduating are direct causes for depression and anxiety among undergraduates. Lack of desire to do usual activity, suicidal ideations, extreme negative view of self, sleep issues, disturbances in appetite, slow speech and movement are some of the symptoms that maybe experienced.
Beauty is the beast…
Instagram, Facebook, Tik-Tok! Posting, Commenting, Liking!
These modern applications have built a novel wave of “Beauty Standards” which is swarming through society. Whether you are in your teens, 20’s or 30’s, beauty standards have no limitation. Whether you are female or male, beauty standards have no boundaries. Everyone who uses social media knowingly or unknowingly becomes a prey of this ruthless predator. Social media influencers and brands have created unattainable and unrealistic social standards which have an adverse effect on society.
“Too fat, too skinny, too tall, too anything. There’s a sense that we are all ‘too’ something, and we are not all enough. This is life. Our bodies change, our minds change, our hearts change.” – Emma Stone
High beauty standards come with its share of mental illnesses such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. BDD is a mental illness caused by excess worrying about defects or flaws in our appearance. Behaviors associated with eating disorders include restrictive eating or avoidance of certain foods, vomiting after meals and compulsive exercises. Hence, we should ask ourselves whether it’s worth sacrificing our mental health just to “fit” the society.
It’s time we end the stigma and change lives…
In Sri Lanka, psychological abnormalities are still stigmatized to the point where receiving adequate treatment is a reason to be disregarded in society. Sri Lanka is a conventional country with a deeply rooted traditional and a cultural background. Therefore, the concept of mental illness and mental health assistance is far from being a norm in society. Thus, the number of people who accept it and come forth to receive adequate mental help is still a rare incident. Sri Lankans don’t view mental disorders as an illness which requires treatment and rather see it as a condition that will get better eventually. Deprivation of proper mental health assistance can result in severe depression or in the worst-case scenario, suicide. Sri Lanka Medical Association, (2019) lists frustration and loneliness as major causes for suicide.
Wish we were taught about this in school…
The younger generation doesn’t get a proper education regarding mental health as much as physical health in the local education system. That is a main cause for mental disorders to be viewed as a distant concept. McLean (2019) states that the breaking down of stigma and misconceptions about mental illness must start in schools for it is where teens hone their sense of self-worth. Were we taught in school that depression is as deadly as brain cancer? and that anxiety is a cause for suicide? It’s time mental wellbeing received equal importance and from an early age, children should be educated about mental illnesses, they should be allowed to freely associate with others with disabilities, thus providing self-learning methods and helping them to be more open minded.
It’s time we take charge of our own mental wellbeing for no one else is going to do it for us…
This is our life. Taking care of our body and mind is our responsibility. Make your happiness and mental health the priority. Life is not just about deadlines and exams, take time to enjoy the little things in life that make it truly beautiful. There is no replay or rewind button in life, so live it to the fullest.
McGorry, P. D. et al. (2007). The logic and plan for achieving early intervention in youth mental health in Australia. Investing in youth mental health is a best buy. 187(7).
McLean, J. (2019 January 2). Why is Mental Health Education in Schools So Important? thedoctorweighsin.com https://thedoctorweighsin.com/mental-health-education-schools/
Sri Lanka Medical Association, (2019 December). Suicide Prevention in Sri Lanka. Recommendations for Action.
By Venuri Perera
Content Writer | AIESEC in University of Peradeniya